When sonatas, hymns and other choral works are played at a performance the musicians are usually comprised of a full orchestra or a select number of chamber players. However, on Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m. Fuquay area residents can hear a wide variety of traditional works and even modern rock music - this time from dozens of handbells.
This unique evening concert, held at Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church, will be the first time a mass handbell choir has attempted a concert in this area. Coordinator of the program, Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church (FVUMC) Director of Music Ministries Jennifer Harrenstein, says the Spring Handbell Concert will include handbell choir members from FVUMC’s Alleluia Ringers, JuBELLation and FANFARE groups. The other handbell choirs include the Grace Notes Handbell Choir from the First United Methodist Church under the direction of Helga Bogardus and those from Sunrise United Methodist Church’s Handbell Choir directed by Laura Rabon.
Harrenstein says that combining the choirs adds diversity to the music, and includes a purpose. “FVUMC has traditionally held an annual handbell concert each spring,” Harrenstein said. “We desired to do something different this year and get more of our community involved; thus we have reached out to the other Methodist Churches for an opportunity to learn and glean ideas from each other.”
Harrenstein also says a love offering that will be encouraged at the concert will go to help support “the hurting and hopeless in our community” by supporting the local emergency financial assistance non-profit Southern Wake Faith Community in Action (SWFCA). “We also felt that the combined choirs effort can help boost the amount of support that we can generate for SWFCA at this event,” Harrenstein said. SWFCA helps citizens in Fuquay-Varina and Willow Spring in Wake County who are in financial crises. SWFCA began operations in late 2006 re-establishing the work done for nearly fifty years by Fuquay Family Aid.
The music at the event will include a wide variety of styles, with everything from classical tunes arranged for handbells (“Sonatina in C” by Musio Clementi) to traditional hymn tunes (“Come Thou Almighty King” by Felice de Giardini in 1769), and “By and By”, (a traditional spiritual). Other arrangements include Contemporary Praise and Worship music to even main stream secular tunes like “Clocks” by the rock band Coldplay.
Harrenstein said one song that promises to be quite impressive will be performed by the First United Methodist Church. The concert will open with a 2-choir bell processional – walking and playing at the same time - and the program will close with a mass piece that involves the choirs from all of the churches ringing together.
Handbell directors say such choirs have evolved over the years since its origins in England when easier techniques of practicing the ringing of bells in church towers were developed. Performers at the Sunday, May 20 concert will include more than traditional ringing techniques. There will be surprising and varied sounds of malleting, stopped sounds using the table and hands, and tower swings. The concert will also include chimes and flutes and one song will even feature a live band.
“Our handbell choirs ring primarily because we enjoy music and ringing offers us a way to give back to God by using the talents He has blessed us with in an offering of praise,” said Harrenstein. Taking FVUMC’s vision of a church that Loves God, Learns God, Serves God and Shares God into account, Harrenstein said they wanted to do more than just make their offering of praise for those that gather inside the walls of the church. “By including the three congregations and inviting SWFCA to partner with us in this endeavor, we feel that we are more fully living into the church’s vision both of serving and sharing God with our Community.”